News Archive - 2005 – Newer at top Go to current news ...
Greater Western Franchise decision
13 Dec 2005: First Group have been awarded the new Greater Western Franchise, which will include the existing Great Western network, Wessex Trains network and the bus service. More details
Portishead Railway Group formed by merger of two groups
24 Nov 2005: The presence of the two groups PHRP and PRAG, though working for the same goal, has caused some confusion, and the two groups have now officially merged.
Bristol City Council response to our petition
26 Oct 2005: Bristol City Council has responded in a letter to our petition submitted in July. It said it ‘fully supported the group’s aspiration to reopen the line to regular passenger services’ and ‘we can confirm the city council remains committed to pursuing the reopening of the Portishead line and will continue to lobby the rail industry and government with renewed vigour until a satisfactory outcome is received.’ NS Times article.
Greater Bristol Strategic Transport Study is published
This major study commissioned by local authorities looks at transport strategy for the area in 2 phases – changes for completion by 2016, and those for completion by 2031. The Portishead railway does not figure in either! The emphasis is on buses, some road improvements, a new road crossing at Avonmouth, and some rail improvements, but not the most obvious - reopening our line! The public are invited to comment.
Sept 2005: A new petition was organised by David Jolley and has collected 4917 signatures. It asks for the Portishead traffic lights to be replaced by a roundabout and for the reopening of the railway line. David presented the petition at North Somerset Council at Weston super Mare Town Hall on 27 September.
Feasibility study money
10 Aug 2005: Money earmarked by house builders Crest Nicholson to help to reopen the railway could be lost if it is not used. £1 million intended for a feasibility study must be used by 2017. Report in North Somerset Times. See Press articles for full report.
Great Western Franchise
27 July 2005: The Bristol Transport Forum has expressed great concern and anger at the contents of the proposed new Great Western Franchise for rail services serving the city. More details
Petition presented to North Somerset Council
26 July 2005: Our petition (see Jan 2005 below) was presented to North Somerset Council by Jean Lord, Chair of Portishead Town Council. She gave a forceful presentation in support of the railway. She had been presented with the petition by Matt Skidmore, PHRP Co-chairman, on July 6.
Fence erected to stop track clearance
12 July 2005: A fence has been erected ‘out of the blue’ at Quays Avenue, Portishead, sealing off the railway, presumably to prevent any further track clearance. A sign says “ Private Property Keep Out - (by order of BRB (Residuary) Ltd.)”. The land is believed to be owned by the British Railways Board, a subsidiary of Network Rail. Note that the track continues in the other direction towards Waitrose, but is not fenced off (yet!).
Petition presented to Bristol City Council
12 July 2005: Our petition (see Jan 2005 below) was submitted to Bristol City Council by Matt Skidmore (PHRP Co-Chairman) through Councillor Helen Holland and was referred to the Executive Member for Transport and Development Control for consideration and response.
Petition presented to Portishead Town Council
6 July 2005: Our petition (see Jan 2005 below) was presented to Portishead Town Council on Weds 6 July.
Local Transport Plan
The councils’ 5-year Local Transport Plan says that the Portishead line should be reinstated, but that it would not happen before 2011, (i.e. not really in this 5 year plan) and was subject to Government funding being available. The Plan will be submitted by the Councils to Government as a provisional document at the end of July 2005. A Final Joint Local Transport Plan will be submitted to Government in March 2006 following another round of consultation. Note that it is still possible to comment on the plan.
New hope for railway? Greater Western Franchise
7 April 2005: First Great Western’s managing director said yesterday that if the company was successful in its bid for the new Greater Western rail franchise, it would carry out a full study and costing exercise to establish whether the Portishead line would be viable. She said that if the costs to reinstate the line were £10 million they would consider it. John Rickard, secretary of PRAG, said it sounds very promising, although he said that it does seem to go against what was said by the SRA and Government earlier this year. Other rail companies competing for the franchise are National Express and Stagecoach. - Evening Post report (7 April 2005)
Protest staged by supporters
28 March 2005: A steam excursion train ran from Bristol to Royal Portbury Docks on Easter Monday headed by Nunney Castle. At Pill, where the train ran onto the Docks extension, deviating from the original line towards Portishead, a group of PHRP supporters led by Alan Taylor staged a light-hearted ‘protest’. Banners read ‘Going the wrong way’ with arrows pointing in the Portishead direction.
January 2005: An e-petition to Bristol City Council was raised in January 2005.
The petition read: “The undersigned request that Bristol City Council seek the reopening of the Bristol to Portishead Railway as a matter of urgency, by incorporating the reopening of the line into their present and future transport policy and lobbying all agencies concerned with the reopening of the railway line.”
The petition closed on 29 March having collected 327 on-line signatures. It was decided also to produce a paper version which received over 1500 signatures.
It was then decided to take the opportunity of also submitting the petition to North Somerset Council and Portishead Town Council. (See above)
Note that the paper signatures are not included on-line, but were submitted with the e-petition.
Railway reopening raised in Parliament
29 January 2005: Dr Liam Fox, MP, raised the question of the reopening of the Portishead to Bristol line in the House of Commons. He explained the transport problems in detail saying that we had ‘probably the most overcrowded cul-de-sac in Britain’ and that 63% of Portishead’s adult population travelled out of town to work. Click here for full text.
Transport Minister Charlotte Atkins replied that the rail service is unlikely to be reinstated in the foreseeable future, and that the SRA was unable to fund it because its priority was to maintain the current network.
PRAG secretary John Rickard was reported by the Evening Post as saying that the town’s people were “fed up, angry and very disappointed”. He said that the group’s view was the line could run profitably. A 2001 survey of the track by transport consultants, paid for by North Somerset Council, reported that it would be feasible to reopen the line if two trains an hour were used he said.
Councillor Jean Lord was reported as saying that a large number of homes at the new marina were sold on the assurance that the railway was coming. She said that the only way to solve the worsening traffic problems is to reopen the railway.